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Panthers players show support for FLL victims

by Jameson Olive /

SUNRISE, Fla. - When Mike Matheson heard about the tragic events that had unfolded at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the Florida Panthers rookie defenseman knew he had to do something.

"I was sitting in my apartment when I heard about the news," Matheson said. "It's pretty crazy when you think of what happened. I just felt like I wanted to do something to recognize the people that were affected by what happened and obviously the people that stepped in and probably saved a lot of lives."

Earlier in the day, a lone gunman opened fire in a crowded baggage claim area at the airport, killing five people and wounding eight others, according to multiple reports.

In honor of those affected by this tragedy, Matheson encouraged his teammates to write "FLL" - the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport code - onto their skates prior to tonight's game against the Nashville Predators at the BB&T Center.

"I think we're a pretty strong community," said Matheson, a native of Pointe-Claire, Quebec. "I've only been here for a little over a half year now and I think that everyone in South Florida is a tight-knit community. It's tough to see something like that happen anywhere, but especially five minutes away from where I live."  

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: We stand with our community. #FLL ������

Multiple Panthers players also took to Twitter to show their support for the victims.

Tweet from @trocheck_89: Deeply disturbed by what's going on in our backyard right now at FLL airport. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved. Stay safe

Tweet from @mmatheson19: Can't believe the news of what is going on at FLL. My thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected. Stay strong South Florida

Tweet from @JonnyHuby11: Praying for all the victims and all the people at the Fort Lauderdale airport #FLL

Additionally, the Panthers held a moment of silence before puck drop in honor of the victims.

"We're a gathering place for the community," Panthers Executive Chairman Peter Luukko said. "In these situations it's good for people to come together, which they're doing tonight, and then go on with the game. We did feel it was important to move on, but obviously respect those who were killed in this awful incident and then pray for the safety and recovery of those that were wounded."

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